District achievement gap results not available till fall

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Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Bill Huyett and Assistant Superintendent Neil Smith presented a progress report at the district’s school board meeting Wednesday night on the district’s plan to close the achievement gap between students, which proposed new actions and priorities for the district to implement later this year.
The Plan to Close the Achievement Gap is an 18-month plan that aims to help the district eliminate the achievement gap between statistically low-performing
African American and Latino students and other students in the district by the year 2020.
In their report, Huyett and Smith presented new action steps to the school board, such as collaborating with the Berkeley Alliance to identify mentors for eighth and ninth grade African American students and steps to train teachers at schools to support African American, Latino and socioeconomically disadvantaged students in Berkeley.
The plan comes to an end this month, though the school board has asked Huyett and Smith to come back with more data in the fall on targeted strategies for the district to implement, according to district School Board Vice President Leah Wilson.
Wilson said Huyett and Smith’s assessment of the plan has helped the board see that previous attempts to close the achievement gap were too wide, and the board now has ideas for a more focused path.
“We kind of collectively decided that the plan as it stands is too broad,” Wilson said. “I think there are too many things that we’re trying to do.”
In their report to the school board, Huyett and Smith said they would not be able to gauge the overall effectiveness of the plan — which strategically focused on five areas of curriculum and instruction, the generation and allocation of resources, family and community engagement, cultural and linguistic relevance and strategies to promote student success —  in closing the district achievement gap until October.
“It’s an issue that virtually every high school in the nation is struggling with,” said district spokesperson Mark Coplan. “We’re in the right direction and we’re doing the right things, but we’ve got a long way to go.”
In order to determine if any advancements were made towards closing the achievement gap, district administrators established 10 indicators that objectively measured the district’s progress through observation of students annually, according to the report.
The measurements from the 2011-12 school year will be compared to the measurements from the same indicators in the 2010-11 school year to see if and how the district has progressed in closing the achievement gap. The results will be presented to the school board in October, according to the report.
Huyett and Smith said in the report they were able to evaluate the effectiveness of action steps — such as introducing writers’ workshops in elementary school classrooms or developing a partnership with the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education to evaluate district initiatives over the past year — based on input from the district administrators.
Tom Fairchild, a district pre-kindergarten teacher for the Hi-5 program, which aims to close the achievement gap between incoming kindergarteners by allowing them to take an extra year prior to entering kindergarten, said he believes the district is on the right track.
“I’m hopeful that the district’s plan will be successful,” Fairchild said. “What I like is that there is a vision and that people are examining whether it’s working. Every step along the way we need to see how it’s going and make adjustments. It’s a very worthy goal and we need to keep looking at areas we can improve.”
Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Bill Huyett and Assistant Superintendent Neil Smith presented a progress report at the district’s school board meeting Wednesday night on the district’s plan to close the achievement gap between students, which proposed new actions and priorities for the district to implement later this year.
The Plan to Close the Achievement Gapis an 18 month plan that aims to help the district eliminate the achievement gap between statistically low performing African American and Latino students and other students in the district by the year 2020.In their report, Huyett and Smith presented new action steps to the school board, such as collaborating with the Berkeley Alliance to identify mentors for 8th and 9th grade African American students and steps to train teachers at schools to support African-American, Latino and socioeconomically disadvantaged students in Berkeley.The plan comes to an end this month, though the school board has asked Huyett and Smith to come back with more data in the fall on targeted strategies for the district to implement, according to district School Board Vice President Leah Wilson.Wilson said Huyett and Smith’s assessment of the plan has helped the board see that previous attempts to close the achievement gap were too wide and the board now has ideas for a more focused path.

“We kind of collectively decided that the plan as it stands is too broad,” Wilson said. “I think there are too many things that we’re trying to do.”

In their report to the school board, Huyett and Smith said they would not be able to gauge the overall effectiveness of the plan — which strategically focused on five areas of curriculum and instruction, the generation and allocation of resources, family and community engagement, cultural and linguistic relevance and strategies to promote student success —  in closing the district achievement gap until October.

“It’s an issue that virtually every high school in the nation is struggling with,” said district spokesperson Mark Coplan. “We’re in the right direction and we’re doing the right things, but we’ve got a long way to go.”

In order to determine if any advancements were made towards closing the achievement gap, district administrators established ten indicators that objectively measured the district’s progress through observation of students annually, according to the report.

The measurements from the 2011-2012 school year will be compared to the measurements from the same indicators in the 2010-2011 school year to see if and how the district has progressed in closing the achievement gap. The results will be presented to the school board in October, according to the report.

Huyett and Smith said in the report they were able to evaluate the effectiveness of action steps — such as introducing writer’s workshops in elementary school classrooms or developing a partnership with the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education to evaluate district initiatives over the past year — based on input from the district administrators.

Tom Fairchild, a district pre-kindergarten teacher for the Hi-5 program, which aims to close the achievement gap between incoming kindergarteners by allowing them to take an extra year prior to entering kindergarten, said he believes the district is on the right track.

“I’m hopeful that the district’s plan will be successful,” Fairchild said. “What I like is that there is a vision and that people are examining whether it’s working. Every step along the way we need to see how it’s going and make adjustments. It’s a very worthy goal and we need to keep looking at areas we can improve.”